UKRAINIAN BAPTIST HERITAGE CENTRE

NOTE: I did not know this booklet existed until I started reviewing my father's collection during July 2009.  On November 4th, 1947, on his 26th birthday, in a Displacement Camp in Seedorf, Germany, Rev. Nischik shared Romans chapter 10 and prayed with my father, for his salvation, and on that day my father rejoiced that he was spiritually born again. [The Last Word of My Mother, by Rev. Stefan Tymciw, 1986, pg. 56] 

 

 

THIS IS MY STORY

By

Rev. Stephen Nischik

1958

Printed by The Gospel Press, Saskatoon, Sask.

I N T R O D U C T I O N

            Every sentence of “THIS IS MY STORY” pulsates with the heart throb of a missionary, who from the day of his conversion in his early youth, was gripped with that intense desire for the salvation of the lost.

            It is characteristic, that this burning desire expresses itself in the Rev. Stephen Nischik, the author of this booklet, in the form which it expressed itself in Apostle Paul, he has a “great heaviness and continual sorrow,” – for the salvation of his people.

            It is also his “heart’s desire and prayer to God” that those of his own people, - the Ukrainians of Europe, of Canada, and of the United States, - the Ukrainians settled in great numbers in the different countries of South America, - that they too may be saved.

            We are sure that the reading of this heart-warming booklet will lead to a kindling of live interest in the tragically neglected missionary field among the forty-five million Ukrainian people.

James Hominuke, M.A., D.D.

President, THE UKRAINIAN BIBLE INSTITUTE, SASKATOON, CANADA.

            I have known Brother Stephen Nischik and his work in Europe for many years, and gladly commend his ministry in this and other lands, with thanksgiving.

Yours because His, 

F.J. Miles, D.D.

            I have read “This is My Story” by Rev. Stephen Nischik and found it a heart warming account of the grace of God as He leads one of His saints through many trials in order that the glory may be of God.

            I have enjoyed fellowship with brother Nischik and have found him to be a sincere and devoted servant of the Lord.  I heartily recommend his and his book.

Kenneth E. Mitchell, Pastor,

West Chicago Baptist Church, Detroit, Michigan

F O R E W O R D

            This year, 1958, I am celebrating three great events of my life, - my 50th birthday, my 35th Spiritual birthday and my silver wedding anniversary.  THIS IS MY STORY, and I dedicate it to the glory of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who loved me and died to save me.

            This is but a small part of the great story of God’s visitation of Ukraine and of the Ukrainian people with His saving power.  So fruitful was the ministry of the Word, that in a comparatively short time there were more born again believers in Ukraine than in any other Slavonic country.

            I wish to extend my sincere thanks to Mrs. John Nabring for correcting my English in this narrative.

            May the Lord bless you as you read “THIS IS MY STORY,” a story of a sinner saved by Grace.  

The Author

Chapter 1. – HOW THE LORD SAVED ME.

“For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  - Luke 19:10

            Born in the Ukraine under Czarist Russian rule, I was brought up in a Greek Orthodox family.  But we did not know that God so loved us, nor did we know Jesus, who died to save us.  My parents and we six children were living without God and without hope in the world.

            I met World War I, as a boy of six.  I was not fighting at the front, but it was right at the doors of my home.  I have been through the horrors of the 1st World War and my two boys have gone through the Second.  I almost died from hunger.  How well I remember that terrible hunger, when I was craving, not cakes, pies or milk, but a piece of black bread to satisfy my hunger.  We two brothers and our four sisters would often come to our mother begging her, “Bread, mother, bread!  Give us something to eat!”  And she had nothing to give us.  Sometimes she would prepare a soup for us from grass and husks.  Many children died of hunger, but the dear Lord, in His great love and mercy, preserved me from death.  However, spiritually, I was dead in trespasses and sins.

            Up to the age of twelve years, I had never heard the good news of salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ.  Never till that time had my hands held that Precious Book, the Bible, or even a New Testament.  My parents, together with the whole village, were living like the poor peoples of dark Africa or Asia, whom the Gospel had not yet reached.  And we were living in Europe, a Christian country!  Priests and churches were everywhere, but Christ as Saviour, and the Gospel that is the power of God unto salvation, were unknown.

            It pleased the Lord to visit us with His wonderful salvation in 1920.  He used two men in bringing the light of the Gospel to us, sitting in the darkness of sin.  One was Ukrainian soldier, who served in the Russian army during World War I.  Captured by the Germans, he was saved in a Gospel meeting held by German missionaries in a prisoner-of-war camp.  After his return home from prison camp, he began to testify about the Lord Jesus Christ.

             The second was a dear brother, who, prior to World war I, emigrated to the United States as a youth to find a better life.  While residing in this country, he met true born-again Christians, who showed him the way of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.  After accepting Christ as his personal Saviour, and following Him into the waters of baptism, he found the truly “better life” in and through Christ Jesus.  Immediately after the war was over, he came back to our village with Christ in his heart and with the Gospel in his hand, and the Lord used him mightily.

            One of the first converts in my village was my dear Dad, Petro.  The first six saved souls were baptized in a small river upon the confession of their faith in Christ as their personal Saviour – in the presence of many thousands of people, who came from distant places to witness for the first time a baptism like that of Jesus in the River Jordan.  This was the beginning of the revival.  Sinners were saved and added to the Church.  Churches were established all around our village and grew greatly, both spiritually and in numbers.  In 1923, two years after my father’s conversion, I made my decision and accepted Christ as my Saviour.  Soon after, my younger brother, who is now with the Lord, and four sisters gave their hearts to the Lord.  One sister is now in Siberia with her husband and two little children.  Mother resisted the Gospel for a long time, but finally at her death bed she surrendered to Him.  So the Gospel of Jesus Christ came to our village and to our home to save us – and even me.  Praise His Holy Name!

            John, the immigrant – turned – missionary, brought with him from the U.S.A. a clarinet.  With it he played such beloved hymns as “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”  Then it was that I heard a Gospel hymn for the first time in my life, and so did all the other boys and girls in my village.  Since then, Jesus became to me not only a personal Saviour, bur Friend and Master.  A year later, on June 6, 1924, I was baptized and received into the membership of the Ukrainian Baptist Church, of which John was pastor and my father one of the elders.

            This then is my short story of how the Lord found and saved me in my village of Rakiw-Lis, near Kowel, Ukraine.

Chapter 2. – HOW THE LORD CALLED ME.

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? – Then said I, Here am I; SEND ME.”  -  Isaiah 6:8

Since Jesus came into his heart and the Bible became spiritual bread for his hungry soul, the whole life of a young boy names Stephen was transformed.  Our home became a place where Jesus lived and where He was not only a dear Guest, but Master.  The Lord blessed us and our home in such a way that the whole village wondered.  We were happy; our home was different; we dressed better; father’s farm looked richer; and every Sunday we were able to invite a number of guests for dinner and supper.  Some of the villagers began to whisper about that my father was being sent money from Germany for every convert.  Others were saying that America sends dollars for every new convert; and so on.  But thank God, the real answer was that when HE saves a soul, HE blesses it in every way.  There however were actually times when we were probably the poorest family in the village, so far as material wealth was concerned; but nobody realized it because we had food that this world knows not of.

            In the beginning there was no church building, so our home was the place of worship, for prayer meetings and Sunday services, until the church was erected.  Many people heard the Word of God in our home.  Many souls found Christ as Saviour there.  I was happy to see many young people receiving Christ.  I longed that the whole world should come to Jesus.  A group of our young people with Brother John went to neighboring villages every other week-end to preach and to sing, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”  I was the choir leader.

            My heart was burdened, for I saw people perishing without salvation.  I told my pastor that I wanted to serve my Saviour as a preacher of the Gospel.  “Good.  God bless you!  We will be praying about that and trust Him to lead you in His way,” he said.  We had no evangelical Bible School near my home.  My father was a poor farmer and didn’t have the means to provide for my studies abroad.  With men, it was an impossible thing, but with God all things are possible.  “Trust and obey for there is no other way” and “Wait on the Lord.”

            In 1927, in a wonderful way and to my great surprise, I was accepted as a student by a Missionary Bible School in Riga, Latvia.  But first, there was a problem of a passport, visas, and money for travel and tuition.  Such a high mountain of difficulties lay ahead, that humanly speaking there was no way for a poor boy such as I was to get to the Bible School.  Oh, how I prayed then!  In faith I made all the applications for everything that was needed for my going abroad.  Months were spent in prayer and waiting.  Finally I received my passport.  But money?  Well, my father loved the Lord with all his heart, and was willing to sacrifice anything to help me go to Bible School.  My mother would have held me back, because I was her eldest son and as such was obligated to help father on the farm and mother at home.  Hardest of all, she was not saved and she could not understand spiritual things.  But my father prayed and planned.  He had two cows and a horse.  He took one cow to market, sold it, and gave me the money for the trip.  In August 1927, just thirty-one years ago, I was on my way.

            I spent two years in the Bible School in Latvia, and I learned that I knew very little of God’s Word.  The Lord knew what I needed and in His wonderful way, without a penny in my pocket, and without help from my father, He opened the door for me to continue my Bible studies at All Nations Bible College in London, England.  Now I thank Him that He led me to an evangelical Bible School where my faith was strengthened, under the principalship of Dr. H.S. Curr, and I am very thankful to those dear friends who prayed and helped me in every way.  Those two years spent in London were the most happy in my life.  In 1931, I graduated at the age of twenty-three.  It was a great experience for me to see and learn a little about religious life and activities in Great Britain.  To attend services at Spurgeon’s Tabernacle and the Keswick Convention; and to hear Gypsy Smith, Graham Scroggie, Fullerton Martin, John McBeath and other great men of God, enriched my soul greatly.

            After my graduation, a friend, John Rolls, then a student at the London University, now a missionary in South America, invited me to spend two weeks with him in a summer camp for boys, which he was conducting not far from Ramsgate, Kent.  My job was to conduct devotions for the boys and give them personal counsel.  Thank God, that at the end of those two weeks, I had the joy of leading almost the whole group of boys to the Lord Jesus Christ.

            Immediately after this blessed experience, I received a call from the Russian Missionary Society to come to Paris, France, as missionary among the Russian and Ukrainian refugees in that great city.  So my first mission field was Paris, the Capital City of the French Republic, and one of the largest cities of the world with its nearly four million people!  The Lord had called me, a village boy from Ukraine, to the ministry of His Word and to preaching of Christ, the Saviour of the world.

Chapter 3.  – THE LORD’S BLESSINGS.

“I will bless thee.”   - Genesis 12:2

            “Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”  I cannot here count all the blessings one by one, but some of them I want to mention.

Fellowship with the Lord:  There are no sweeter moments in life than the time spent in communion and fellowship with the blessed Lord.  The time spent in prayer, in reading and meditation upon the Word of God, the Holy Bible, is the most precious time in my life.  The Word of God was a Light unto my feet in time of trouble, sickness and in darkest moments under Communism and Nazism, in slave labor camps and during the whole period of World War II, when bombs were falling and hunger and death were staring in my face.  At such and brighter times, I thank Him that He walked with me, and He talked with me, telling me, “I am with you always.”

“Home, sweet Home”:  Though I have been absent from our home much of my life, I must confess that the Lord has blessed my family life.  My wife, Vera, which means “faith” in Ukrainian, is a gift of God to me.  She is truly a faithful companion.  Since July 30, 1933, my Faith has stood by me and helped me throughout all these years of ministry.  We were blessed with two fine boys, Victor (born in 1934) and George (born in 1939), both of whom we have led to the Lord Jesus Christ.  I had the joy of baptizing Victor with many others in the city of Munich, Germany, in 1948, and George in Detroit in 1956.

Fellowship in service:  In June of 1934 I was ordained to the ministry and received my first call to a pastorate.  In my ordination service took part Dr. F.J. Miles, and Charles Phillips.  This was two years after my arrival in Poland from Paris, France.  To me it was always a great joy to have fellowship in walk and service with true children of God and His servants of different nationalities and in various countries.  “Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”  It is a wonderful thing to belong to the family of God, redeemed by the precious blood of the Lord from all nations, tribes, tongues and colors.

Winning souls:  “He that winneth souls is wise.”  To win a soul for the Lord is joy unspeakable and full of glory.  Yet when we have done that, all the praise and glory belongs to Him, Who alone is Worthy.  We are just instruments in His hands.  It has been my joy, too, to lead some sinners to the Saviour.  But the greatest joy for Mrs. Nischik and myself has been when our sons surrendered their lives to the Lord Jesus.  Oh, parents, work hard and pray much at the Cross of Calvary, until you see your children kneel together with you in prayer and praise for the great salvation of their souls.

Chapter 4. - POLAND   

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations.”  - Matthew 28:19a

            After World War I, Poland became a free nation with a population of thirty-two million.  It was a nation combined of many national groups:  Poles, Ukrainians, White Russians, Germans, Czechoslovakians, and Jews.

            It was a strongly Roman Catholic country, with a good number of Polish Protestant churches.  Among the Protestant groups were Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Lutherans, Pentecostals, and others.  Eastern Poland was populated mainly by Ukrainians and White Russians, and in this area there were Ukrainian Orthodox, United Catholics, Baptists, and others.  Freedom of worship was guaranteed to all by the Constitution.  In some areas, however, Catholics with the support of local governments persecuted non-Catholics.  I never personally suffered of the Polish Government for my religious beliefs or practices.

            I was, however, called in several times by the administrative official and instructed not to preach in the Ukrainian language, but rather to preach in Polish.  And once I was forced to leave a village without conducting the evening service because a Polish officer came into the home where I was staying and heard me speak to the fine Ukrainian Christian family in their own language.  But we usually succeeded in teaching to every national group in its own language.

            Among these national groups there was now in progress great evangelistic campaigns.  I was also engaged in evangelization of my own people, resulting in many conversions.

            One year after assuming my first pastorate, I moved to a town, R., near Luck, where a new church had been organized and there I labored from 1935 to 1939.  While serving the church at R., I was also called to minister to my mother Church which at that time did not have its own resident pastor.  It had grown to a membership of five hundred people.  The two churches were one hundred kilometers apart.  I sometimes travelled this distance by train, and very often by bicycle.

            At this time, just prior to World War II, there were two revivals going on – one spiritual and the other national.  The people wanted to read, to learn, to know.  The nationalistic movement among the Ukrainians was growing very rapidly.  This could have been a great force against Communism, but the Polish government suppressed it.  There was a great hunger for truth.  People wanted to know the truth.  Consequently, there was a great demand for spiritual literature.  Bibles, New Testaments, religious magazines, and other literature was read and re-read.  Christians wanted to study the Bible.  Young people attended Bible courses arranged in response to special demands.  These monthly courses were held in different areas, so that many could attend.  Courses for Sunday School teachers and choir leaders were set up.  We used every opportunity, as time seemed to us to be running out.  At one of these training courses for Sunday School teachers in the city of Lutsk, I met my faithful Vera.

            Sinners were saved and saints were busy in the service of the Lord.  The work of the Lord was wonderfully blessed, until the fall of Poland and its final partition by Nazis and Communists.  On September 17, 1939, the Red Army occupied Western Ukraine, and we and the blessed ministry were enshrouded by the Iron Curtain.

Chapter 5.   BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN

“Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.”  - Exodus 14:13

            On September 17, 1939, the Red Army occupied Eastern Poland.  Later they celebrated that date as Liberation Day in Western Ukraine and White Russia.  Yes, this was the beginning of their “liberations.”  They liberated people from food, clothing, churches, and freedom.

            Our small apartment was also occupied by five Red soldiers with a political commissar to watch over us all.  Life had begun under the new Soviet system.  It began with uncertainty and with fear, with arrests and deportations of certain classes of people.  Soon my hall, rented for services, was taken away from us for the use of Comsomol  (young communists).  I was informed that my very life was in danger.

            At this time there was a great flow of people from East to West and from West to East.  Those persecuted by Hitler, particularly the Jews, headed for the Soviet side; and others whose lives were in danger under the Soviets were fleeing into Western Poland, now desolated and occupied by the Germans.  These refugees were exchanged at certain points by Soviet and German soldiers.  They were friends then.  Passing through these points, each person had to give his or her reason for going to the other side.  Usually the answer, when asked “Why are you coming here?” was, ”Home.”  But most of these people had actually left their homes, property, country, and some even their dear ones in order to save their lives in foreign and strange places.  What tragedy war brings with all its destructions and desolations to a country and its people.  But oh, what greater tragedy it is for a person to leave home, country, and even dear ones, and seek refuge in a strange country for the sake of religious convictions!  And how many people have gone or would go anywhere in this world in order to find a place where they may pray, sing, read and preach the Bible, and worship God freely.  How precious is freedom!

            Late one night in November, 1939, I had to part with my dear family, my home, my work, and country, and head westward under cover of darkness.  This was one of the darkest nights in our lives.  My family remained under Eastern, and I under Western, Godless rulers.  But our hearts and lives were in the great and loving hands of our Lord and Master.  In those dark days of our separation, a Light was shining – the light of His promise, that He would never leave us nor forsake us.

            He was faithful to that promise, and by His wonderful Hand, He brought my family again to me.  It took them many cold days and snowy nights of wandering through fields, forests, before they arrived tired and sick.  Luba (meaning “love”), my wife’s younger sister, accompanied her to help along the way.  This she did at the cost of her own life.  A severe cold contracted on the journey later developed into Tuberculosis.  She returned home, but in 1945 she passed away, a true Christian girl, believing in Jesus Christ as her personal Saviour.  Yes, she laid down her life to help others.

            The Lord gave us a new opportunity to preach the Gospel to many thousands of refugees in the city of Lodz.  Here was a Slavic Evangelical Baptist Church composed of Czechs, Poles, Ukrainians, and White Russians, with a pastor or more to minister to each group.  We had some freedom to work for the Lord and also to visit other cities.

Chapter 6.  – BEHIND THE NAZI IRON HAND.

“.... they went every where preaching the Word.”  - Acts 8:4

            It was a beautiful Sunday  morning, June 22, 1941.  We did not have a radio, and therefore knew nothing of what happened early that morning.  My family and I went to church service in the city of Lodz.  As we entered the church, someone told us that Germany was at war with the Soviet Union.  This was bad news, for we were again at the front.  New sufferings, more shedding of blood, more deaths and hunger were in store, and my own country and people would suffer the most.  On the other hand, it seemed to be good news for many.  German propaganda led the people to believe that the Ukraine, White Russia, the Baltic States, and others would be liberated and become independent countries.  That was one of the reasons why the Ukrainian and other peoples welcomed the German Army; it was the reason the German Army advanced so rapidly.  In a short time, it had occupied the whole Ukrainian territory.  The Ukrainian people as well as other national groups wanted so intensely to be free and independent.

            Soon, however, they learned the bitter truth about Goebel’s lies.  He had promised to give national independence and religious freedom, to dissolve the collective farms and to return the land to its former owners.  That is what the people wanted!

            When Germany broke her promises, the Ukrainian people turned their backs upon her and began to fight on two fronts, - against Nazism on the one hand and against Communism on the other.  Resistance is still going on against the latter.

            All this, of course, is known because it has been told so many times before.  My story is another one – the story of how the Lord has His purpose and how He saves sinners in all circumstances.

            While living in the city of Lodz, which was integrated into the German Reich, I had to have a permit from the authorities in order to visit other Polish territories including Warsaw.  These territories were called by the Nazis “General Government.”  There were many churches for me to visit.  It was with that little piece of paper, “passiershein” (permit), that I crossed the border between General Government and the Ukraine.  There in the Ukraine I spent the next two years or more, and was involved in one of the greatest spiritual revivals of our time.

            In the Ukraine  there are three main religious bodies: Orthodox, United Catholics and Baptists.  Up to 1928, there were some two thousand Baptist churches with about two million members.  But from 1929 to the end of World War II was a time of great tribulation for these Christians.

            The “great peace-loving” Communists of Moscow had carried out their purpose in this manner:

1.The once effective Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist Union was disbanded.  There is now no Baptist organization in the Ukraine.

2. Ukrainian Baptist leaders, including their president, Rev. Kostukow, “disappeared.”

3.  By 1941, no church was found in Kiev, Kharkow, Dnepropetrovsk, Poltawa, Mikolaev, or any other city except Dneproderzinsk.  It was even worse in the villages.  Reports show that Ukrainian Baptists now total a mere two hundred fifty thousand.  What has become of the other one and three-quarter millions?

            4.  All church buildings were confiscated, entirely demolished, or converted into other purposes, such as barns, clubs (shows), and so forth.  The church in Moscow, however, stayed open.

            Under German occupation Christians had freedom of worship.  The existing church buildings were returned to congregations, which appeared from underground or returned from prisons.  Very few preachers could be found at that time, but the believers used this conditional freedom to the utmost.  Again places of worship were overflowing with hungry souls.  Conversions wee numerous.  Sinners were saved at every service.  Baptismal services were conducted very often and in great numbers converts were baptized – thirty, fifty, a hundred, and even two hundred persons at one time.

            Bibles, New Testaments and other spiritual literature were in great demand.  Wherever we could find a copy of the Holy Scripture – in Warsaw, Berlin, Vernigerode – we brought it to the Ukraine.  The Swedish Bible Society published twenty thousand Ukrainian New Testaments in Finland, and from there we were receiving and distributing the Word of God to hungry people.  This hunger was so great that a widow was willing to give her only cow for a copy of the Bible.  A great number of parcels containing Bibles were received through the kindness of German Christian soldiers and officers.  Young people began to fill the vacancies and to carry on as evangelists, preachers, and pastors.

            During this time of revival, we again had about eight hundred churches with approximately fifty thousand members, though it was very hard at such a time to collect exact statistics.  Thank God, we again had strong churches in almost all the cities and in many villages.  While blood was being shed and people were dying, through the preaching of the Gospel, the Lord was saving souls and giving them eternal life.

            Christians were happy to be able to meet in local conferences for fellowship and to organize for more effective work for the Lord.  Such conferences were conducted at Luck, Zhitomir, Kiev, Kirowograd, and other cities.  July 18th through 20th, 1943, in Dnipropetrovsk, a conference was held at which representatives came from all central districts for discussion concerning the re-establishment of an All-Ukrainian Baptist Union, for opening a Bible School, and for publication of our Ukrainian Baptist magazine.  Upon all these questions the Christians unanimously agreed, but the Union was never recognized, the School was never opened.  Nevertheless, I thank God for this revival in my country and the salvation of thousands of souls during troubled times.

            By now, I had not seen my own dear ones for a whole year.  I could not go to them, but my wife and I both prayed much about their coming to me.  She tried every means to obtain the necessary papers.  After long months of asking, waiting, and examinations, she finally arrived with the boys.  We knew it was only because the Lord undertook for her.  It was great Christmas gift for us all, as they came in December of 1942.

            Just one more year we spent together there in the Lord’s work.  Then early in 1944, we packed some of our belongings and fled westward, first to Poland.  Then as the Soviet army approached Warsaw, we were taken to Western Germany where we spent almost a full year in slave labor.

Chapter 7.   SLAVE LABOR AND LIBERATION

“Let the oppressed go free.”  - Isaiah 58:6

            On our westward journey, we stopped again for a short time in the city of Lodz.  The Communists were also advancing.  Our urge was to go ever westward to the Atlantic and even, if possible, to cross it.  It was then beyond anyone’s dream.  However, there is nothing impossible with God – only pray , wait, and see what God can do.

            But first, Stephen Nischik must have another experience.  I went through Wiedenest, a Christian Center, where at that time the German Baptist Theological Seminary from Hamburg was located.  The Seminary buildings in Hamburg were destroyed by air raids on that city.  After a short stay at Wiedenest, Paul Saalmann of Velbert, a Christian business man, took my family and me to his town and placed me in his foundry factory, where I, with many other slave labourers worked long hours at hard labor.  Here were thousands of my countrymen and women, boys and girls, working in the same and other factories, and millions of them were scattered all over Germany.  As one of them, I worked hard during the day and spent sleepless nights, because of Allied air raids.  I became very sick, but the doctor would not release me from the job, neither would he give me a permit to transfer to an easier one.  The time passed by, day by day, with anticipation that one day the war would be over and we would be free.

            These slave labourers, working together, suffering together, living together, also longed together for peace, home, food.  They also were in need of salvation for their souls and peace with God.  Oh, what an opportunity it was to testify to them about the Lord Jesus, the Saviour, Satisfier and Lord.  This testimony was given at work, during a few minutes of lunch, at our living quarters, and in air raid shelters, every day and especially on Sundays.  I shall never forget those services, particularly the wonderful singing from memory, because of the lack of hymnbooks.  Our services were often interrupted by air raids.  Together we would run from our camp to the air raid shelter, and there we would resume our praying and singing under the detonation of exploding bombs above.  Yes, God is our refuge and help in time of trouble.  God gave us a great harvest of souls in those days.  Boys and girls and older folks in great numbers accepted the Lord Jesus as their personal Saviour; churches were organized in camps; converts were baptized; the Lord’s Supper was observed.

            All this was done in the camps where the people lived.  The German Gestapo did not permit the performance of these services in Protestant churches.  Some of the factory directors were themselves Christians and they were glad to see God working behind the wire fences.  They tried to help this work in every way they possibly could.  My boss and his wife, a dear Christian woman, were greatly interested in this work and they were very helpful to us.

            April 17, 1945, will never be forgotten.  On the evening of the 16th we heard shooting.  The night became quiet, with no bombing.  We slept well.  In the early morning I went out and to my great surprise and joy I saw American soldiers in the streets.  To me and to my family, America means liberation and it means FREEDOM!  The first American soldier whom I welcomed was a Baptist boy, who in turn introduced me to his Chaplain, Rev. D. Wadsworth, also a Baptist.  This also meant much to me.  What joy to meet and fellowship with my new-found brethren in Christ on the streets of Velbert, near Essen, Germany.  It was a time of rejoicing for everyone, because slavery was at an end.  The slave labor camps were taken over by the American Army and we became Displaced Persons.  Food and clothing also were provided by our liberators.

            We, Christians, on April 19th, called the former slave labourers to a great thanksgiving service, held at one of the great Lutheran Churches of the city.  The guest speakers were our new friends and brothers in Christ, Chaplain Wadsworth, and another Chaplain, whose name I cannot recall.  He was a Nazarene.  They brought us greetings from American Christians generally; and as Baptists, we were greeted particularly by the Baptist Chaplain.  The messages were interpreted into our language and all present were happy to see and hear these men of God.  They not only brought good news to us, but they also sent good news from and about us to our Christian friends in the United States and England.

            How we thank God for the liberation of that day.  For my family, the war was over, slave labor ended.  Gone were sleepless nights, hunger, air raids, fear; and in their place FREEDOM.  Yes, “Our God” for us was “a refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Chapter 8.  – DISPLACED PERSONS

“How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things.”  - Rom. 10:15

            “A total of nine million men, women and children were uprooted by World War II.  These people, often moved forcibly from their homes, came primarily from Poland, the Baltic States, and the Ukraine; others left homes in Austria, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Soviet Russia and Yugoslavia.  Of these, seven million were repatriated by Allied Armies and agencies by December 1946, but another one million five hundred thousand non-German refugees remaining in Austria, Germany and Italy required international aid for re-establishment, because they were unwilling to return to their previous homelands” (Twentieth Century Encyclopedia).  And it is said by 1951, there were some seventy-seven million homeless people in the world.

            My family and I were among them.  First we lived in the British Zone of occupation and settled in the city of Munich, where we established headquarters for our missionary work.  The place was called “SS Kaserne” and later renamed “Warren Kaserne,” Munich-Freimann, Bavaria, Germany.  There were some eight thousand persons living in this big four-square military block, called a Displaced Persons Camp.  Such camps of various sizes were all over Western Germany.  What an opportunity to preach the Gospel and to distribute God’s Word to the people, living together as they were in such large numbers.  And with God’s help we did it.

            While we were still living in the British Zone, a revival sprang up in all the camps, so that about thirty-thousand souls were saved.  Many of them were repatriated to their homelands.  One of the great centers of missionary activities was established in Camp Ludenscheid, Westfalia, where we had our Bible School with twenty students enrolled preparing for the ministry.  I made several extensive missionary trips throughout the Western Zones with a small choir of twelve persons, conducting religious concerts and holding evangelistic services with the help of Rev. J. Barchuk as preacher and Rev. J. Polischuk as choir leader.   Both of these men are now labouring for the Lord in Chicago, Illinois.  Many souls were brought to the Lord and many lost sheep were found and returned to the Good Shepherd.  Thousands upon thousands of people heard the message of salvation by word and song.

            In our missionary work in Displaced Persons Camps, American and British Army Chaplains rendered a very helpful and fruitful service.  They helped to open new mission stations; they preached sermons through interpreters; they provided Bibles and other literature which were greatly needed.  Through them some parcels with food and clothing were sent to us from the U.S.A.  Sometimes I had the privilege of preaching in their services too.

                                                British Army of the Rhine.    

                                                H.Q. 1st Corps District,

                                                Chaplains Branch,

                                                20th August 1946

Dear Pastor Nischik:

            It was a very great delight to have you and your charming and splendid choir with us in our worship last Sunday.  So many people have spoken to me about your message and visit and have said what a help it all was.

            May God bless you continually in all your work for Him and guide you fully as you seek to extend its scope.

            I am enclosing as a gift from our congregation, our collections from last Sunday amounting to 594 Marks.  This gift is to help you a little in your magnificent work.  Perhaps you would kindly sign and return the enclosed receipt.

                                                Deputy Assistant Chaplain – General

                                                I Corps District, B.A.O.R.

            By 1947, the Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist Church in Germany had more than twenty-five mission workers and pastors.  This work of God is still being carried on there with His help and blessing.

            We were always happy to see and welcome visitors from the United States, England and other countries.  The American people, churches and government were interested in our future.  They sent representatives to us to study the situation and conditions under which we lived, and tried to help by sending food, clothing, medicine, and other things for which we had a need.  Finally, the Legislative bodies of the United States, Canada and other free countries, passed the necessary laws to permit the Displaced Person to come in, and the great exodus began.  Among the thousands who found a new life in the New World were my family and I.

Chapter 9.   – THE NEW WORLD

“Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles wings, and brought you unto myself.”  - Ex. 19:4

            The Lord was good to us.  We had good friends in the U.S.A. and Canada, all of whom were praying for us and trying to help bring us to this continent.  The invitation came from the Ukrainian Baptist Church of Western Canada, which sponsored us.  We sailed from Bremenhaven, Germany, September 14, 1948, on a small military ship, General Stuart Heintzelmann, which brought us safely to Halifax in nine days.  There were about eight hundred DPs in our group.  During the voyage, I conducted two services on the boat.  A great number were present at our service of thanksgiving for the safe journey; even the Captain of the ship took part.

            On our way to the Western part of Canada, we stopped and preached at Montreal, Toronto, and St. Catherines.  We arrived in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, on October 2nd, where I assumed the pastorate of the Ukrainian Baptist Church in that city and ministered to three other churches in Petrovsk, Lizard Lake, and Viceroy.  After two years and four months of blessed service, I was called to Detroit, Michigan, to serve as pastor of the First Ukrainian Baptist Church.  Since February, 1951, we have lived in the United States of America.

            As one who sees America after living in Europe, and particularly behind the Iron Curtain, these things have impressed me:

1. Wonderful freedom to live, to speak, to worship and to work.

2. The country’s amazing richness and great prosperity.  No person need go hungry.  While in D.P. camp, our son, George, once asked his mother how a real egg smells.  This she described to him with difficulty.  When we arrived in Canada, he ate six eggs at a sitting.  Thereafter he understood all about eggs.  This is a land of plenty.

3.  So many people, nationalities, origins, and colors, living peacefully in friendship and love.  Scotch, Irish, German, Ukrainian, French, Japanese, Polish, Baltic, Balkans, Scandinavians, - all have the same rights and privileges and all speak one language though they may know many.

4.  Extensive church programs and activities.  Sunday Schools, young people’s programs, evangelistic campaigns, the preaching of the Gospel over radio and television, the great missionary endeavours, and Bible and missionary conferences, make up a program and like of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

5.  Outstanding technical and scientific advances.  In electrification, in industry, in transportation, and in schools, and even in the things used every day in the home, America leads the world.

            And this is the country where, by the grace of God, my family and I are now living.  We have become citizens of this wonderful country, the United States of America.

Chapter 10.  – THE OPEN DOOR

“Brethren, pray for us.”  - I Thes. 5:25

            I thank God for the freedom in the United States of America, for the free world and for the OPEN DOOR to preach the Gospel to all the nations.  The Lord gave me again a great opportunity to proclaim His Word.  Beside the local ministry, I had a joy and privilege to go with the Message of the Cross from coast to coast of the United States.  I preached in New York, as well as in Los Angeles and San Francisco, in Fort Worth, Tex., Memphis, Tenn., Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and in eastern and western Canada.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power unto salvation to everyone that believeth just the same in any part of the world.  The need of men is for salvation and the same Jesus can save and does save, keeps and satisfies.  Praise His Holy Name!

            For four years, I was serving as executive secretary of the Ukrainian Missionary and Bible Society-Association of the Evangelical-Baptist Churches in the United States of America, and in 1955, together with its President, Rev. Paul Bartkow, I went again to Europe.  We spent six wonderful summer weeks visiting Displaced Persons and Refugee brethren and preaching the Gospel in England, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy and France.  I shall never forget the great experience I had in France.  While visiting Paris, I preached also in the same “DOM EVANGELIA” (House of the Gospel) where I began my ministry in 1931.  After these many years, here was the same messenger of His grace proclaiming the same message in the same place – that never changing Jesus is the Saviour of the World.  Jesus never fails and I thank Him for His faithfulness to me.

            It was heart breaking to see many Displaced Persons and Refugees still living in camps in Western Europe.  Many of them aged, physically disabled and sick.  It was a joy to bring them good news of salvation through the Lord Jesus and to believers comfort from the Word of God.  It was also a pleasure to be a helping hand to some in special need.  This help was available through the kindness of some of the individual Christians in the U.S. and Canada.  Oh, how great is the need, how hungry are the souls for the Word of God, how white is the field and ready to harvest and how few are the labourers!  45 million Ukrainians in the world without Christ and His salvation.  8 million of them are living in the Free World and are open to the Gospel.

            For years our brethren in South America have been praying, and waiting for our visit.  Australia is appealing for at least one Ukrainian missionary.  So the door is open.  The need is great, the opportunities are unlimited for the distribution and proclamation of the Word of God.  Oh, how great a message and wonderful Saviour we have to present to the perishing souls of men.  “For God so loved the world,  that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

            Jesus Christ is the Lord of the harvest.  He commanded us to pray, to go and to give.  And as I close this unfinished chapter of the open door, may I ask you to respond to the call of the Lord and obey His Command: go, pray, and give...

            Please remember before the Throne of Grace the Christians behind the Iron Curtain and those that live outside of it.  Pray for this forgotten field, for the Ukrainian Baptist Missionary Society, Inc., for my family and myself that we might be used more by the Lord for the salvation of many souls until He comes.

            Please “Brethren, pray for us!”

© Ukrainian Baptist Heritage Centre
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